Tavern Crawler

by Josh Labelle profile

Screwball noir fantasy
2020

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Number of Reviews: 8
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A smooth and polished game exploring an odd medieval city, October 5, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

Josh Labelle is a fairly well-known professional narrative designer, so I was interested to see how this game turned out. Skills developed working in a team on graphical projects don't always translate to solo text works and vice versa, so I figured it could go either way.

For me, I find this very successful. I have a soft spot for dungeon crawls and western RPGs (I enjoyed the parser game Heroes and the Choicescript series Hero of Kendrickstone better than most reviewers on average), and this game satisfies that.

It's very polished, with slick menus and nice highlighting and color use. I wasn't even sure it was Twine until I opened the file.

You play as one member of a team of three who has been assigned to kill a dragon then return to town. But once you get back, you have trouble finding where to claim your reward.

There are some complicated stats. It does fall a little bit into the Choicescript meme where you pick one of 3-4 skills and just max it out the whole time, and there's no reason not to accept most side quests; both these options make strategy a little less well-developed. On the other hand, the relationships with your partners and your decisions with the enemies (like the dragon and your employer) have more long term consequences (and many side quests have meaningful ending decisions that last even until the end credits).

Writing, setting and story are all high quality, with huge variety between the taverns in the game and several plot twists. Overall, I think this will do pretty good in the comp; if anything limits its appeal, it might be that traditional RPGs have been considered overplayed in IFComp in the past. It'll be interesting to see where this places. I consider it one of the better games I've played so far.

+Polish: Very polished, smooth, well-designed.
+Interactivity: Even lets you pick how much of the game you want to interact with, by making a lot optional.
+Descriptiveness: The variety in the bars was strong.
+Emotional impact: Suspenseful and funny.
+Would I play again? Yes.